New York Rangers best Sixth Round draft picks of all-time

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
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The New York Rangers have selected 556 players to date at the annual NHL Entry Draft, which began in 1963. Forever Blueshirts will embark on a series of articles looking at the franchise’s best picks from rounds 1 through 7.

Historically, New York has drafted 58 players in the sixth round, with 18 appearing in an NHL game and 16 suiting up for the Blueshirts. Interestingly, the club’s first sixth-round pick was Duane Wylie (81st overall) in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft, and their most recent one is Dylan Roobroeck (178th overall) in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

Join us each week to see who makes the cut.

Note: Dates and statistics from Hockey-Reference.com were used to compile this list

Top New York Rangers Draft Picks From Round 6

NHL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
RVR Photos-USA TODAY SportsCredit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

5. Marek Zidlicky – 176th Overall 2001

NHL stats: 836 GP – 89 G – 328 A – 417 Pts

New York stats: Never played

Marek Zidlicky was a Rangers sixth-round pick (176th) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft but never played for the franchise. While the Czechia native was skating in Finland in SM-liiga, New York traded him to the Nashville Predators on Dec. 12, 2002, along with Tomas Kloucek and Rem Murray for goalie Mike Dunham.

Eventually, Zidlicky made his NHL debut in 2003, playing with the Predators for four seasons, collecting 175 points in 307 games. After that, he would spend four seasons with the Minnesota Wild (123 points) before returning to the Hudson River area when he was traded to the New Jersey Devils.

Although his best seasons came with the Predators, he finished his NHL career dressing with the Detroit Red Wings (21 games) and New York Islanders (53 games), retiring in 2016 after 12 seasons and 417 points in 836 games. Internationally, Zidlicky won a World Championship (2005), World Championship Bronze Medal (2011), and Olympic Bronze Medal (2011).

4. Tony Granato – 120th Overall 1982

NHL stats: 773 GP – 248 G – 244 A – 492 Pts

New York stats: 115 GP – 43 G – 45 A – 88 Pts

Tony Granato began his US Hockey Hall of Fame-worthy career when the Rangers drafted him as the 120th pick in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. Before making his NHL debut in 1988-89, when he netted 63 points in 78 games, he was a Hobey Baker Award Finalist, winning the NCAA (WCHC) Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year Award in 1987.

Besides finishing third in Calder Trophy voting, he would eventually win the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1997 while a member of the San Jose Sharks. Ultimately, his career on Broadway lasted only a season and a half before a deal (including Tomas Sandstrom) for Bernie Nicholls took place on Jan. 20, 1990, that sent him to the Los Angeles Kings. Immediately, Granato found great success with his new team, tallying 305 points in 380 games, including a career year in 1992-93 with 82 points in 81 games.

After signing as a free agent with the Sharks in 1996, he would skate in the Bay Area for five seasons before retiring in 2001 and becoming an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche in 2002. Since then, Granto has been a coach for the Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, and University of Wisconsin.

3. Kjell Samuelsson – 119th Overall 1984

NHL stats: 831 GP – 48 G – 138 A – 186 Pts

New York stats: 39 GP – 2 G – 6 A – 8 Pts

Kjell Samuelsson was a New York sixth-round pick (119th overall) in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. Although many would associate him with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he skated in 545 games over two stints with the Metropolitan Division rivals, he made his NHL debut with the Rangers in 1985.

After just 39 games, the club traded him to the Flyers and a second-round pick in the 1989 draft (Patrik Juhlin) in exchange for Bob Froese on Dec. 18, 1986. Eventually, he would get dealt to the Penguins and help the team win the Stanley Cup in 1992 before returning to the Flyers as a free agent in 1995.

Despite a lengthy run with Philadelphia, he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1998, playing the final 46 games of his career with the team before announcing his retirement. Besides winning the Stanley Cup, he was a one-time NHL All-Star (1988) and won a World Championship (1991). He serves as a development coach for the Flyers, continuing a 23-year working relationship with the Flyers organization, which started in 2000-01.

2. Carl Hagelin – 157th Overall 2007

NHL stats: 713 GP – 110 G – 186 A – 296 Pts

New York stats: 266 GP – 58 G – 72 A – 130 Pts

Carl Hagelin may have won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles as a member of the Penguins, but his best seasons in the NHL came as a member of the Rangers, who drafted him 168th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

After making his debut at 23 in 2011-12, Hagelin would collect 130 points in 266 games in New York while finishing fifth in Calder Trophy voting. However, after four seasons, the Rangers dealt him to the Anaheim Ducks on June 27, 2015, for a second-round draft pick 2015 (Ryan Gropp) and Emerson Etem.

Although his time in Anaheim lasted only 43 games, he wound up in Pittsburgh, where he won two championships in 2016 and 2017, before a trade sent him to the Kings in 2019. At the tail end of his career, Hagelin skated with the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately, in March 2022, he suffered a severe eye injury in practice, leading to his premature retirement at 33.

Besides the two Stanley Cup rings, Hagelin won two NCAA (CCHA) championships (2008, 2009), a U20 World Junior Championship Silver Medal (2008), and an Olympic Silver Medal (2014).

1. Reljo Ruotsalainen – 119th Overall 1980

NHL stats: 446 GP – 107 G – 237 A – 344 Pts

New York stats: 389 GP – 99 G – 217 A – 316 Pts

Reljo Ruotsalainen played only seven seasons in the NHL, winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Edmonton Oilers in 1987 and 1990. Initially drafted by the Rangers in the sixth round (119th overall) of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, the Finnish-born defenseman would make his North American debut in 1981-81, tallying 56 points in 78 games.

After five seasons on Broadway, where he netted 316 points in 389 games, the Rangers dealt him to the Oilers in a blockbuster eight-player swap on Oct. 23, 1986. Although he would later suit up with the Devils for 31 games in 1989-90, he would finish his NHL career in Edmonton with a second championship in 1990.

Despite a brief run in the NHL, Ruotsalainen had great success on the international stage and in Europe, where he is a member of the Swiss and Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame. Besides two Stanley Cup titles, he won three NLA Championships (1989, 1991, and 1992), an Olympic Silver Medal (1988), a SM-liiga Championship (1981), a U20 World Junior Championship Silver Medal (1980), plus a long list of personal achievements and awards.

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